Have you taken steps to advocate for students with dyslexia in your community? Tell us how! Contact us and we will consider your story for our series.
By Caroline Karcher, Arizona Parent
Like a lot of parents of children with dyslexia, I read a lot of resources to help keep myself informed on things that happen in our community. A few times, I have really wanted to do something to help not only my child but also the other kids in my school district. I have felt pretty helpless at times seeing the lack of communication between parents and their schools. I’ve wanted to help be a voice for everyone, but never really knew what I could do other than work with my son’s IEP team and pay for a private tutor. I noticed that as a community, this is the status quo for most of us; once we get a great tutor and help at the school, we stop pushing for more things to help other people that are in our same situation.
I noticed a blog entry on Facebook a few months back about a school district in Virginia, and how they are forming a task force of parents and teachers in order to help develop a plan that would help better serve dyslexic kids. It seemed like a really good meeting of the minds. I decided I would set up a meeting with my district’s special education director to see if he would be receptive to forming a task force. I called around to a few parents I knew who have been active locally in the dyslexia community, and I found out that another district here was doing something similar, which gave me more confidence.
During my first meeting with my district, I showed the director what the Arlington, Virginia Public Schools were doing, what the other district near us was doing, and some information about early intervention. Our meeting went very well. I was delighted to learn that our district has various parent committees that work on goals the district sets. The district is passing on the information I shared to the existing parent committee to help with one of the goals in the area of special education. We also spoke about why teachers need training so that they can identify dyslexic kids earlier. I offered contact information for dyslexia in-service training for the teachers. We are in the process of setting this training up for this year.
I never would have thought that one meeting could have so many positive outcomes for my district! It’s made me realize that our voices as parent advocates are really important in getting vital information to our districts. I never would have known about my district’s committees or plans in special education if I had not had that meeting. The teachers would not be getting dyslexia training if I hadn’t stepped forward, either. Small changes can start adding up to big impacts.